I see a lot of Anthidium manicatum in the garden in the summer. Like most bees it is a question of what flowers you grow. I have several large clumps of nepeta, lots of lavender and different sedum. There is a large clump of nepeta in a sunny spot in the back garden with a sedum right beside it. Paradise for the Anthidiums!
The males can be recognised by the shape of the five prongs at the end of their abdomen.
It is not always easy to see the prongs when they are at rest on flowers. You can see four in the photograph above and have to imagine the fifth on the other side. The curve of the rear three prongs is also diagnostic.
I would also like to add that no bees were injured to deliver these close-ups and he was shortly patrolling the Nepeta after his photo session.
In this photograph my bee is posing with his middle leg forward to show off another particularity of the Anthidium bees. Bees have a claw at the end of their legs with a little appendix or arolium in the centre of it. Anthidium have no arolium on their claw – just a 2-pronged claw!
Well I think he is cute.
The female also has a yellow face but the shape is different. I was photographing this one when – bang – a male arrived.
No courtship, no preambles, in fact, no choice. Some male bees can be considerably smaller than the females but the Anthidium males are larger than the females so it is a case of brute force.
I was enjoying watching the Anthidium and the Anthophora in the lavender in July and every now and again there was the – bang. The female Anthidiums were very long suffering and seemed to ignore the males.
The male Anthidiums have a bad reputation for being aggressive towards other bees and even wasps and are seemingly capable of tearing their wings with the sharp prongs on the end of their abdomen.
I have not seen this aggression as they share the Nepeta and other flowers with lots of other insects. Maybe the ones in the Charente Maritime are more laid back – it would not surprise me, it is that sort of place.
As I said, I have never found them aggressive.
My fifth bee identification ends with a bee kiss.